Red Sand & Black Sun

The Stormclaw Mountains

The session began in the aftermath of the Thrax fight, with the party victorious, but not without cost. Drokan woke up from being knocked out during the last few seconds of the whirlwind to see the party battered but not broken. With the sun coming up the group decided to begin it’s travels for the day and mounted up. Abraxas picked up his withered water-skin as he neared his inix and cast it away as it was brittle and useless.

The party made slow speed through the layers of high rocks that seemed ever-present in these lands and eventually, with the sun rising over the crest of the horizon, saw the mass that was the Stormclaw mountains in the distance. Drokan said that they were not more then a day and a half away. During the day-long ride, Abraxas and Tom held a conversation in which Abraxas was inadvertently rude and called Tom a liar, causing the half-elf to not speak with the dray for the remainder of the ride. Abraxas and Sorin then started trying to teach each other about particular skills, Sorin tried to teach Abraxas the “common” alphabet for the purposes of learning to read, and Abraxas tried to teach Sorin the draconic language. Abraxas was able to learn his ABCs for common, but Sorin had a far more difficult time with the dray language, mostly because Abraxas himself did not know anything about grammar.

That night the temperatures dropped into the 30s with a fierce cold-snap and bitter strong winds. Kacha’ak attempted to build many fires with little avail until Tom suggested they station the party and the fire behind a wind-breaking rock which was very successful. After setting up the fire and huddling near it for warmth the party used their magical goblets to toast each other’s accomplishments and drink the magically imbued liquid. Thanks to Sorin’s magic, the cold water they drank became hot and tasted just like hot chocolate. The party drank to each others great deeds and were warmed by the delicious brew, which Tanark said was the best thing he had ever tasted. Just as the toasting was finished Kacha’ak was started and jumped into a defensive stance with his Gythka out ready for action, but dropped it when the huge beast in the night turned out to be Hazar the Gynosphinx. This did not stop Brokenscale from yelling a battle-cry and charging forward, but the calls after him did cause him to suddenly stop. Hazar whispered towards the group and as she did the party could see trees, plants and wildlife spring up around them, filling in the frigid wastes with greenery and warmth, though it was obvious that they were still in the same place. When asked why she had come, the sphinx told the group that she had come with news about what she had learned concerning Zeburon, the Iron Rider and his purpose behind attacking Kacha’ak. She told the group that she flew after the cloud-ray and the bandit-lord using wispy clouds she created as cover until she had tracked them back to Slither, the Crawling Citadel. There Zeburon met with a bearded dwarf that Hazar guessed was an undead from an ancient age when dwarves commonly possessed facial hair. This dwarf had demonic hands, scaly, red and tipped with claws and wore a demon-skin tunic. He breathed smoke and his eyes were pin-points of red. Hazar then explained that one of her powers was to gaze upon a person and steal their true name. She did that to this monster and learned his name was Yarnath. The dwarf saw Hazar and used powerful magic and psionic talents, ripping the ground apart with a extremely lethal blast. Hazar barely escaped. The sphinx warned Kacha’ak that he should stay out of the Black Sands if at all possible since this man obviously was dangerous and seemed to control Zeburon.

After this was explained the party still had questions concerning this warlock from a past age, but Hazar had no more information. She said that she would gather her people, the sphinx together and try to convince them to aid her concerning this matter. At this point Kacha’ak revealed that this Yarnath was a enemy of his ancestor Kacha. The two had once been clutch back when they had been alive. But Yarnath had always been worried about the might of the kreen and became more and more obsessed with taking it away from them. Eventually this caused a duel to the death between the two, which Kacha won. Kacha even suggested that Yarnath may have been responsible for summoning the demon Bejein in the first place, though he had no proof. Yarnath wanted to see Kacha suffer, and needed Kacha’ak alive so he could torture the spirit ancestor through his bloodline by having them both watch the genocide of the kreen race. The party absorbed this dire information then after the mood settled down Hazar asked if any of the newcomers or previous non-champions wished to take the sphinx’s test. Tanark stepped forward, then Clem and Maul, then finally Irastus. None became champions, but neither were any killed. Hazar was disgusted by Irastus and his apparently terrible past and sent him away quickly. Hazar then offered to teleport the party a reasonable distance towards Nibenay to help on their way. The group accepted and when Hazar flew away and the plants and trees vanished, they were much closer to the Stormclaw Mountains. Unfortunately their fires were back at the other camp-sight and they needed to make new ones. The chill caused the party members to get less rest then they otherwise might have and have a horrible experience, but otherwise none were permanently harmed save for a small inix, which died in the night.

When the group woke, the day did not warm as it usually did, instead the cold air came off the mountain peaks and a light fog rolled down the slopes. The group mounted up and Sorin cast her Trailblaze ritual to aid their travels as they winded through narrow canyons and between mountain and foothill. After several hours the group saw upon a high mountain ridge a group of four hill-giants. The inix’s were steered towards the large boulders nearby to hide till the giants passed, but Drokan was forced to split away from the larger party because the rocks they were behind were only big enough for them. When he went behind his rock, a poisonous snake slithered out from between a crack, spooking his mount and causing the dwarf sun-priest to become dismounted as it bolted out from under him and into the open. In the blink of an eye, a giant rock flew down like a meteor and crushed the inix to death; it was thrown by one of the female giants. One of the males came down and the party pressed themselves tight in their hiding spots as the giant raked up the fleshy pulp and his rock then went back up on the cliff and the giants walked out of sight. The party collectively sighed and went on their way after Drokan mounted on Kacha’ak’s crodlu.

It was another few hours before the group was forced to travel into the foothills due to rough-terrain and there they encountered several scared people, bound by the hands fleeing a group of darkly-robbed men. The front robed man tried to hide a ceremonial knife from the party as he asked for his “slaves” back, as they had ran behind the party for protection. The bound men and women, one young human girl and man, a goliath man, a dwarf man, and an elf woman cried that their captors were going to sacrifice them to a dark ritual and were twisted folk. The party could see over a dozen men up on the secluded rise which the prisoners had fled from. The party was obviously well armed so the robed man offered the group money or perhaps the goliath to sell when they reached civilization, as long as they returned the remainder of the “slaves”. Sorin sensed defiling magic and Abraxas was outraged as the party drew their arms and proceeded to slaughter the cultists who were ill-equipped to fight the well-armed party. Among their ranks was a defiler human with a dark face and evil aura, also a psychic human who seemed to be keeping the sacrifices docile. Those two were quite a bit more impressive then the rather ordinary men who made up the bulk of the cultists and the defiler shot bolts of black lightning that injured several party members. He also killed and threw one of the sacrifices into a deep-dug pit and called upon several demon lords to accept his offering. At first he was confused as nothing seemed to be happening. Tom’s glass dagger, given to him mysteriously during the night seemed to have a strange reaction to this attempted sacrifice, and Tom saw in it’s mirror-like surface the face of the sacrificed man, anguished by unseen forces. Tom quickly sheathed the glass dagger as he had never meant to draw it in the first place, it was put into his hand by his magical armor (which normally does that).

Undeterred, the defiler tried again, this time with three of the cultists who jumped willingly into the pit to die. From the pile of bodies already in the hole rose a terrible demon as the cultist sacrifices were torn apart by invisible claws. The demon had great wings and a beak like a vulture. It took to the skies and attacked the party from above as the defiler made his escape into several back canyons behind the pit and alter. Tom threw one of his knives at the creature and bit into it’s flesh. Surprised the creature flew away after rending two still-living sacrifices and carrying their bodies off with him.

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